Electric Wave Park


A new blog I discovered, and seem strangely drawn to, is Information Junk, the findings of a San Franciscan librarian. Via IJ, I see that PG&E has agreed to buy power from a “wave park”. No it’s not a water park with lots of tourists creating energy through unspeakable means. Rather it’s eight buoys bobbing in the water 2 1/2 miles offshore of Northern California, each buoy generating electricity as it rises and falls with the waves. The array, schedule for completion in 2012, will produce enough wattage to light 1,500 hundreds homes or 5 during Christmas.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

2 Replies to “Electric Wave Park”

  1. Damn but that diagram is unhelpful. It has three captions:
    (1) I think “piston” is more descriptive than “pump”. And the piston stays still while the rest of the housing (filled with air at the top) moves up and down with the waves, rather than what they show (which is the relative motion).

    (2) Seawater does not “compress” — it is put under pressure. I would have said that the piston forces seawater up and down through the turbine.

    (3) Seems okay. That makes 1 for 3.

    The youtube videos are pretty cool though.

  2. I’m not an expert on how ocean waves this distance from shore are generated — is it mostly tidal forces or wind? Assuming it’s tidal, this is a generator which extracts useful gravitational energy from the Earth-Moon system (as opposed to a waterfall which only extracts it from Earth). Cool!

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